Manchester United fan tells court he is ‘ashamed’ after tragedy chanting

  • additional reporting by Eleanor Barlow, PA

A Manchester United supporter convicted after “tragedy chanting” told a court he is “ashamed” and hopes other fans “think twice”.

Michael Avery, 45, pleaded guilty to a public order offence at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on Monday after making gestures related to the Hillsborough and Heysel stadium disasters at the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester United and Liverpool.

‘Deeply sorry’

Avery, who was ordered to pay £1,205 and given a three-year football banning order, told the court: “I just want to reiterate that I’m just deeply sorry and I really regret what I did. I’m ashamed and embarrassed.

“Everyone that knows me has obviously felt this as well. It’s just a difficult situation. I wish it never would have happened. I regret it terribly.

“I hope other people look on what’s happened to me and think twice before they do anything at football games.”


Tess Kenyon, prosecuting, told the court the case involved “tragedy chanting” at the Old Trafford game on March 17, which was won 4-3 by Manchester United.

A video from an account on X, formerly known as Twitter, was played in which Avery could be seen putting his hand over his face with his fingers splayed.

The court heard the gesture was a reference to the Hillsborough disaster, in which 97 Liverpool fans died following a crush at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

Abusive gestures

He was also seen pushing with two hands, which the court was told was a reference to the Heysel stadium disaster, where 39 people died at a match between Juventus and Liverpool.

The defendant, wearing a black long-sleeved polo-shirt, sat with his head down as the short video was played twice.

Ms Kenyon said: “The defendant’s gestures are abusive in the context of what they denote and they were directed towards Liverpool fans at this football match.”